On Saturday, I make my way to a baseball game in Washington D.C.. I hate baseball. Yes, I am still allowed to live in the USA, but just barely because I’m probably on one of those WATCH LISTS now. But one of my favorite people in the world is getting married in June and the baseball game is the first event of her bachelorette party. And the only part I can attend. So not only am I driving to D.C. on a Saturday morning, but I am the proud owner of more baseball tickets than I have EVER bought in my lifetime.
I drive the two hours alone because no one else in Richmond knows the wonderful C. And although I am all like ROAD TRIP, N woke up five times the night before so I’m also all like COFFEE IV.
I give myself two and a half hours to make a hundred mile journey because I FEAR Northern Virginia traffic at all hours of the day and night. And I’m parking in the ECONOMY lot. Which may mean I need to hitchhike to get to the stadium.
But I cannot predict the future (THIS TIME) and I’m too early. But as I walk to the stadium, I realize that I have again proven I have no nerves around my bladder except DON’T HAVE TO PEE and OMG IF I DON’T PEE RIGHT NOW I’M GOING TO DIE. And in order to make it to stadium without purchasing Depends (gee those come up a LOT in my posts… sponsorship opportunity?), I need to stop. Plus I’m hungry. (LONG WALK.)
I see a sandwich shop and a CVS pharmacy. I decide that I can buy a sandwich AND use the bathroom; thus, forgoing the diaper option (although I could’ve gone all sugar high in CVS so it really was a toss-up).
As I reach the door, an older gentleman asks: Can you spare any change? Anything?
My policy with panhandling is simple: I give. If only 1 in 100 use my dollar for food, those are good enough odds for me.
However, after paying for parking, I only have a dollar left in my wallet. I am in a strange city so I don’t want an empty wallet. I have a (FEW) quirks. One of which is I MUST have cash on me when I travel. No matter what. I know. I couldn’t actually PURCHASE anything with a dollar, but I am not sure that I can give it up. (Maybe I should ask him what HE’S going to buy. Just for future justifications.)
So I respond: Let me think about it.
I enter the sandwich shop and begin to debate between the six-inch vegetarian and Italian subs. I go veggie. But I think of this man outside the door and say: Twelve-inch veggie please.
I pay, and suddenly, I’m nervous.
I find my courage by FINALLY peeing. And then letting the sub shop owners know the toilet paper situation in the women’s room. I figured that if I can announce THERE’S NO TOILET PAPER IN THE LADIES ROOM to a restaurant AFTER I’VE USED THE BATHROOM, I can offer a man a sandwich. I step outside.
Me: I don’t have enough money but you can have half my sandwich.
Homeless man: What kind?
Homeless man: No, thank you.
I can hear the snickers around me. The people outside the sandwich shop thinking: Why didn’t he take the sandwich?
I awkwardly eat my sub as I watch him ask customer after customer for pocket change. More people ignore him than acknowledge him. Only one person gives him anything before I shove the other half of the sandwich into my purse and head to the game.
I greet my friends and shift this big stinky sandwich around to find our tickets. My license. My wallet. My iPhone. I’m annoyed. But ANOTHER QUIRK is that I can’t bring myself to throw the sandwich away. IT’S A PERFECTLY GOOD SANDWICH.
While trying to palm off the six-inch sub on my friends, I struggle with my own self-righteousness.
I wanted to say to him: I acknowledged you. And you didn’t care. You didn’t share my sandwich. We could’ve had a conversation over lunch. We could’ve made fun of all the preppy popped collars and aviator sunglasses. Or the moms in the too tight jeans and giant leather purse clearly filled with six-FOOT long subs and two-liter Coke bottles to save money at the concession stand. I was embarrassed for both of us when you turned down my sandwich. All these people think you just want the money for booze. You made me uncomfortable. Like I should’ve asked you if you wanted a sandwich. You probably would’ve eaten the Italian sub if had I gotten it. But I didn’t want meat. And it was my choice. MY LUNCH.
But I don’t say this aloud to anyone. I let the people snicker. I changed the subject.
Because maybe he’s allowed to have choices, too.
Maybe he’s not a homeless man asking for money. Maybe he’s just a man. A man who politely declined my offer. A man who doesn’t like vegetables.
And maybe we can all relate to that.
On my way home from the game, I get caught in traffic. Awful, lanes-abruptly-ending, fifteen-highways-merge-into-one-and-no-one-knows-where-that-siren-is-coming-from traffic. And it’s late. Past dinnertime. So I eat his half of the sandwich. A sandwich that saves me from attempting to eat the people in front of me after ramming my bumper into their car for cutting me off AGAIN.
Maybe him accepting the sandwich wasn’t ever the point at all.